IF SOUTH AFRICA FOLLOWS THROUGH ON THE 'USE IT OR LOSE' LEGISLATION ON AGRICULTURE IT COULD BE A TURNING POINT IN POST POST-COLONIAL ECONOMIC STRATEGY
The story on today's BBC website indicates that common-sense may have trumped knee-jerk socialism in South Africa. Unquestionably land distribution to the disadvantaged peoples in post apartheid was inevitable, ethical and the right thing to do. This said, it also become clear very early on that the way in which land was handed out had not been thought through and in the end the plan was recognized by all sensible people in South Africa as having been botched (and that is putting it kindly).
Handing land over to people who do not know how to husband the land is a mistake. South Africa was in danger of following Zimbabwe down a road to an agricultural apocalypse. The new legislation from South Africa's minister of agriculture is doubtless a carrot being waved at the electorate prior to the May election. Or is it?
If the ANC or COPE for that matter are looking to increase their standing with the populace in general, then threatening to take back land from blacks does not seem to be the way to go. So what is thinking here?
It may simply be that all races, creeds and colours and members of every political pursuasion in South Africa recognize a recession when they see one. And simpler yet all South Africans recognize that in times of failing economies and threatened financial systems all the stops must be pulled out. Going back on a promise to redistribute to the historically disadvantaged is a strong message that someone, somewhere in the South African halls of power undestands the problem and has figured out the solution. If only Zimbabwe's polotician's would sit up and take note.
From the BBC
South Africa says it will take over any land allocated to black farmers which is not being used effectively under a land redistribution programme.
The measure, which takes immediate effect, was announced by Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana, who warned farmers should "use it or lose it".
She said confiscated land would go to emerging farmers and co-operatives.
After apartheid, the government set a target to give 30% of all agricultural land to the black majority by 2014.
About 95% of that land has been handed over but much of it has lain idle for years.